My summer holiday is approaching, a blissful week at the British seaside, sticky lollies and sandy toes, paddling in the near sub-zero water. But for a holiday to feel really worthwhile there’s got to be a bit of travelling to get there. I’ve been on very near holidays, and holidays on your own doorstep just don’t feel the same. And travelling with two young children in the car does put a bit of tension into the start of any trip. Fortunately my two aren’t quite up to asking ‘are we nearly there yet?’ but it can’t be far off.
At least we don’t have to travel by carriage. I’ve seen horse drawn carriages. Plump upholstery, velvet curtains, hot bricks at your feets, not so very different from the modern day car. But then you look underneath and see the suspension is made of wood.
Now I’ve worked as an engineer, and the bowed curves of the suspension are strong, deliberately designed to give and dampen the bumps on the road. And in later versions, the wood is leaved between metal plates, but wood? Forgive me if for this holiday at least, I look forward to the cushioned metal springs which, with any luck, will lead to nodding heads for as much of the journey as possible.
In the following extract from Braving Madness, Betty is every bit as impatient in her carriage journey.
The streets had been empty when the door to Edward’s town house closed. Even in the dark, the funeral wreath had stood out in high relief against the white paint as they’d driven away. It was a foreboding beginning.
The wind had been relentless, dragging reluctant clouds across the blackened sky so the intermittent moonlight had forced the coachman to a crawl. The initial excitement of the journey had long since faded; replaced by fear her cousin would be aware of her absence.
With her need for sleep abandoning her, Betty had watched the scenery creep by, inch by inch, until it felt as if her shoulders must be bunched about her ears. Now, the morning sun was beginning to creep over the horizon and with any luck they’d be able to pick up the pace.